Galen Brokaw brokaw at
Fri Sep 21 19:04:25 UTC 2007

The name of this town appears in colonial documents as both Acapistla 
and Yacapichtla. In the Mendoza Codex, where it appears as 
"Yacapichtla," the glyph is of a hill with a nose and an ant-looking 
insect. The interpretation given by Berdan is "where there are many 
pointed things," breaking down as "yaca[tl] + pitz[tli] + tla[n]." In 
her dictionary, Fran does list an attestation of a possessed "yacapitztli."
Of course, you always have to be wary of morphological analyses that are 
based on a literal interpretation of the glyph, but in many cases the 
linguistic and iconographic morphologies do coincide to one degree or 
another. Berdan seems to suggests that the insect signals the term 
"pezotli," which she translates as "insect," and functions as a rebus to 
produce "pitzahuac," which contributes the "pich" or the "piz" portion 
of the toponym. Barbara Mundy identifies this element as "azcatl" (ant), 
which would also be a rebus but for the intial part of the name. Of 
course, there are issues here that neither of them discuss. For example, 
why they would use "azcatl" to signal "yacatl," when they were already 
depicting a nose? It is not uncommon to see certain iconographic 
redundancies in such toponyms, but even if this were the case, it would 
seem that the stylized use of "acatl" (reed) that you see in other names 
would have worked better to signal "yacatl" than the image of an ant 
(azcatl). This may be why Berdan suggests that the insect is actually 
meant to signal the "pich" or "piz" part of the name.
Regardless of the relationship to the pictographic morphology, the 
morphological analysis itself, which suggests something like "where 
there are many pointed things," seems plausible.

John F. Schwaller wrote:
> Yesterday I was talking to a student about various towns and Yecapixtla 
> came up.  She inquired what the name meant and I was stumped.  I have 
> some guesses, but couldn't say for sure.  I looked in my usual reference 
> books and they were silent as well.
> Anyone care to give it a try?

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